The mind is very powerful and plays a vital role in attaining a state of ultimate wellbeing. What we think, feel and do, how we react to situations, who we gel with, our perception of the world and our surroundings, why we feel sad or happy etc. are all kind of linked to our mind and influenced by our thoughts, sensations and experiences. 

The journey of the mind actually starts right from infancy. A mother’s emotions and behaviours during pregnancy and postnatal period determine the baby’s mental development. The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through a dynamic process of neural connections that begins before birth and continues into adulthood. The child’s mental and emotional development provides the foundation for all future learning, behaviours, mental health and emotional intelligence. It is often seen that babies with a happy childhood are more likely to develop positive emotional attributes, favourable intellectual growth and successful future in adulthood. Whereas, having adverse experiences early on in life can impair brain architecture with negative effects lasting into adulthood.

How parents interact with the unborn and newborn baby has an impact on the baby’s developing mind. Parent’s emotional and cognitive mind shapes the later developmental trajectory. So, parents, in order to promote the wellbeing of their child, need to be mindful of how early interactions shape the later development of their child.

Teachers too have an active role in shaping the minds of these young learners. How teachers behave and interact with them leaves a long-lasting impression on the developing minds of the toddlers. A child’s mind is like a sponge which absorbs all that information they gain from their senses. Caring and affection teachers have a positive effect on the child’s intellectual and psycho-social development. 

You might have various views, opinions and thoughts on this topic. There has been a lot of research done in this field with eye-opening revelations. The facts from researches shed a very different light on this critical subject. 

Research shows that in fact, children start learning right from their very early years of life. How they grow up and what they become later in life is dependent on what they feel, see and hear around them from their parents, carers and teachers during the course of their life. Nurture plays a key role in a child’s brain development. Parents and teachers play a critical part in the proper nurturing of the child leading to healthy brain development and well-rounded persona of the child.

In fact, children start learning with their senses much before then we usually think. From day one of their life, they observe and absorb everything that happens around them and that contributes towards their future development and helps them to develop a sense of self.

Therefore, to give a child the best possible head-start and a great future ahead it is necessary to understand what goes on in a child’s mind i.e., their feelings and emotions so that as they grow up they are able to effectively self-regulate their thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

Throughout the stages of early childhood, babies and young children need nurturing emotional relationships with their parents and an affectionate bond with teachers as it is critical for all-round development of any child. This fosters cognitive skills as well as intellectual, emotional and social development within a child which in turn lays the most crucial foundation for a resilient and empathetic mindset. And we all know that the virtues of resiliency and empathy are fundamental for a happy, successful and prosperous life.

Every parent wants the best for their children. Similarly, every teacher wants the best for their young learners. So, parents and teachers need to be mindful of how best they can support the kids while they start making sense of their surroundings and people around them.

It is often seen that parents buy plenty of expensive toys, latest gadgets, spend exorbitantly on fashionable clothing for their kids, leave their kids to the care of housemaids etc., with the thought that what they are giving their kids is much better than what they themselves had when they were kids. So, they usually feel that they are giving their kids everything they need, and their kids should consider themselves privileged. Many parents believe that sending their kids to the most expensive schools, best coaching centres and private tuitions will certainly give them the best possible head-start with plenty of prospects to build their persona which will shape their future and guarantee their success in life. Well, parents might feel and think that they have given the best of everything to their child but often overlooks a simple thing that the child actually needs the warmth, love, care and compassion of their parents more than anything else.

Whilst, parents must fulfil the basic needs of the child it is also essential that the parents meet the emotional needs of their kids. The parents should be emotionally attached to their children to share an intimate bond. They should be able to understand, relate and respond to their children’s feeling in a caring and thoughtful manner. On the other hand, teachers not only shape the young child’s future but also their minds. A teacher who feels and cares for them fosters positive traits in them.

Parents should be aware of how to interact with their children. The children follow the way their parents communicate with them. By listening to their parents, for example, babies learn to distinguish sounds and develop language skills. They imitate their parents. By exchanging gestures with parents, for example, young children learn to understand and respond to emotional cues thereby forming a sense of self.

Therefore, besides the physical and intellectual needs, children’s emotional needs are important to be recognised by both parents and teachers. If parents or teachers fail to recognise, relate and respond to the child’s feelings, thoughts and emotions, the child seems to develop various psycho-social problems that can affect their mental and emotional wellbeing.

There are several ways to understand a child’s emotions which parents and teachers should be mindful of.

You will be amazed to know that a child starts learning as soon as they are born and by their first birthday they can understand and sense emotions. This is evident as we see children expressing their feelings by crying or smiling long before they learn to speak. Therefore, the notion that a child is too young to understand or feel is untrue.

Studies have shown that the sense of security, belongingness and closeness a child develops with his/her mother even as an infant is also a manifestation of emotion.  Various research reports have shown that by the time, a child reaches six years of age they are able to recognise and relate to different types of emotions such as joy, frustration, happiness, sadness etc. 

So, as parents or teachers, it is extremely important to understand children’s emotions from the very early stages of their lives. The child will develop a relationship of trust with parents or teachers when they are able to recognise and empathise with the child’s emotions. This, in turn, helps parents or teachers to inculcate virtues such as inner strength, assertiveness and thoughtfulness. 

Often, we as parents or teachers fail to assess the extent of our children’s emotions i.e., how sad or angry they are. The intensity of the children’s emotions is usually overlooked by adults as they feel it is a trivial thing and does not require any attention or action. In fact, this is where the parents and teachers can play an active role to help the kid understand their feelings in a better way.

This is where the Emotional Guidance Scale can be useful. Using the coloured and numbered guidance scale where 1 = None, 2 = Mild, 3 = Moderate, 4 = Severe and 5 = Worst, ask the child to indicate the level and intensity of their emotion. This exercise and tool will help the kid to learn about knowing and managing their emotions effectively and help parents or teachers to understand the types and intensity of emotions the child is going through so can deal with it in a professional and empathetic way. Applying this method will aid the child to develop emotional intelligence which is a key life skill for a successful life ahead.

Parents and teachers can actively use this tool to measure the emotional status of the kids in order to interact with the child prudently.    

We always express our emotions through our body language. We are sulky when we are upset. We frown when we are angry. We smile when we are happy. We have an open body language such as smile, uncrossed arms, uncrossed legs, stand or sit straight, head held high, eye contact, amicable tone and confident posture, when we are receptive, calm, composed and optimistic while communicating with others. On the contrary, crossed arms, crossed legs, avoiding eye contact, frowned face, head held down, timid tone, huddled body posture etc. during communication with others exhibits closed body language.

Children feel the emotional states of their parents and teachers from their gestures. Children notice the facial expression, body postures and intonations of their parents to gauge their parents’ moods. Parents should be mindful while communicating with their children not to exhibit negative emotions and closed body language as it impacts the emotional wellbeing of their children.

Children are found more participative in classes where teachers maintain eye contact with students, pays attention to everyone, answers their questions politely and goes around the classroom during the lessons. The open body language of the teacher gives the children a sense of assurance and worth, so they become more attentive and engaged during those classes.

Parents and teachers must ensure that they have the correct postures, pitch and pace while communicating or interacting with the children. So that the children can learn and develop confident body language besides verbal language skills. Reading storybooks with apt voice modulations to show various emotions is a good way to help kids learn about various emotions and how to express themselves and communicate effectively.

To make a child understand about any problem or issue the parents or teachers are facing, they have to get to the intellectual and emotional wavelength of the child.

Children are not matured enough to grasp the problems faced by parents or teachers in real life. Hence, while trying to explain any problem or issue to them, the parents or teachers must use age-appropriate illustrations which the kids can easily understand and relate to. For example: if the parent wants to tell the child about financial problems, they can give a relatable example of why they would need to defer to buy a new gadget till next month and consequences if any. Problems in life is a reality so it is important to make kids understand how to deal with them rationally and not unreasonably. This approach also kind of prepares them for future eventualities.  

Transparency with children always helps them to develop honesty and tenacity to deal with any types of problems. It is necessary for parents and teachers to spot any physical, mental, social or emotional anomalies caused due to any exigencies so that suitable steps can be taken at the earliest to resolve such issues in a timely, logical and skilful manner.  

Researchers have found that problematic home environment during a child’s early years can disrupt the brain’s stress response system leading to a host of developmental and behavioural issues such as aggression, anxiety, depression, poor language skills, impaired cognitive development etc.

It has been proved that due to lack of love, care, affection and emotional bond during the early years of a child’s life, causes mutation of two genes namely NR3C1 and RAR-alpha. As a result of this mutation, there is a change in the pattern of the two genes which results in excessive secretion of a harmful hormone called Cortisol in the body of the child. The more Cortisol is secreted, the greater the risk of physiological and psychological problems such as fatigue, anger, anxiety etc.

Furthermore, if parents fight and argue among themselves and there is a hostile environment at home due to the collision between parents then that has an impact on the child’s genetic makeup. It is seen that parents engaged in conflict are more aggressive towards their children and less responsive to their needs. Usually, children who are exposed to such unpleasant circumstances for long-term can become aggressive, unfriendly, violent and develop low self-esteem, anxiety and depression as they grow up.

Comparison adversely impacts the self-esteem and self-worth of a child.

Parents and teachers should never compare one child with another. The child begins to suffer from inferiority complex eroding his/her self-confidence. This generates an unhealthy competition and negative attitude towards others.

Instead, parents and teachers should appreciate the potentials and praise the good qualities the children possess. Give them the love, support, care, guidance and encouragement so that they can accomplish any task in their lives no matter how small or big or how easy or difficult it is.

Surely, we as parents and teachers, always want the best for our children. Confidence is a personality trait vital for the future success of any child. We need to help children develop this essential trait since the early stages of childhood.

Here are some tips for parents and teachers to build and develop confidence in children.

  • Delegate small and easy tasks to children according to their age, though under supervision by parents or teachers. It can be as simple as tying the shoelace, wearing the socks, opening a bottle cap, filling the bottle with water from the tap etc. Always appreciate their effort whether they win or lose. Never criticise their effort or compare theirs with other siblings or peers.
  • Children like to take part in different activities and do new tasks so support and encourage them to do so however, still keeping the vigil. It could be like helping father or mother in small ways like laying the table, assembling a toy house, watering the plants etc. Encourage practice to develop day to day life skills. Offer help and support only when needed.
  • Encouraging and engaging children to participate in new opportunities and extra-curricular activities at home or in school. This helps them to develop self-esteem, self-belief and self-realisation.
  • Respond effectively to their inquisitiveness, give them new challenges and problems to solve and let them figure out the solution while you observe how they approach the problem and what solutions they come up with. This helps them to develop problem solving skills, creative mind and lateral thinking.
  • Don’t reprimand or punish them if they make any mistakes or get less marks in exams. Try to understand the root cause of the mistake to help them learn from their mistake. Learning the lessons from mistakes builds confidence and the ability to think practically, productively and positively while performing any tasks in future.

Children also experience changes in life. They often need to move from known environment to an unfamiliar environment such as changing schools, shifting to a new house, moving to a new place, going to stay in a residential school or being trolled on social media etc.

Due to the sudden change from a child’s known zone to an unknown environment, it might create a sense of uneasiness and anxiety in the child resulting in emotional crisis. If the child fails to cope with that new environment, they develop fretfulness, tantrum, aggression and inferiority complex which can adversely impact their overall performance. However, if parents and teachers are supportive and mindful, they will rationally explain how the change will make the child adaptable and develop a broader horizon. The parents can make the child realise that the change will help them learn new things, get new friends and gain a new experience.

If parents and teachers pay attention to the emotional needs of their children caused due to any type of change in their environment may it be at home or school, it will help the child to accommodate with the change in a positive and joyful way. Then the child accepts and looks at changes with optimism. 

Unbeknown to you, as soon as the child faces the outer world and goes to school, playground, tuition classes etc., they come across various negative experiences such as bully, oppression, rejection, alienation, discrimination etc. which takes an emotional toll on the mind of the child and negative effect in later years. In this digital age, children are also trolled on social media by their peers. The children are constantly under the pressure of being liked or disliked by others which shakes their sense of identity. All these can lead the child to sink into depression.

Thus, it is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to identify and meet the emotional needs of the child during any kind of changes and psycho-socio challenges they are going through. Remember, when children are going through any changes in their life, parents and teachers play a critical role in supporting the child in embracing the change and thereby helping them to develop agility, adaptability, equanimity, readiness and self-confidence which is key for success and survival in this competitive and challenging modern era.

Communication skill is a critical life skill. Parents and teachers play a key role in developing a child’s communication skills. Children may experience various difficulties with communications in which case early attention is needed from the parents and teachers to resolve such issues.

It is often seen that not all children start speaking at the right age. Some start speaking late. Some have difficulties in communicating with others. For some learning is a slow process and their formal education is delayed. Some show very slow progress in studies. Some struggle to keep up with the socio-emotional pressures at home and school.

These difficulties could result from a child’s mental, physical or psychological problems. Parents and teachers should spot these issues but unfortunately, fail to notice them.

Having access to proper training can help parents and teachers to become mindful of children’s problem and play an important role in diagnosing and resolving these issues. Suitable and timely action can ensure and assure well-rounded child development from early stages of life.

Whilst parents play a vital role in shaping the child’s future, teachers play an equally important role in that aspect.

After parents, it is the teachers with whom they share a close bond. When they start their schooling, they learn to stay in the school away from their parents and spend time with their teachers and fellow learners. Teacher influences a child’s mind as deeply as parents so the role of a teacher in shaping the child’s future cannot be undermined.

A teacher not only imparts education but also instils the necessary socio-emotional, ethical and intellectual competencies throughout the stages of child development. Teachers who have a sense of discipline, moral values, self-control, affection and compassion become role models for children who look up to them.

Role models play a very important part in any child’s life. They are inspirational and influence a child’s mind in such a way that the child wants to become like their role models. It is extremely important for any child’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

In this fast-paced and competitive world, there is a need for good role models for our next generation as they will be shaping our society in the coming years. Children look up to role models to embed virtues of morality and humanity.   

Parents and Teachers can become Role Models and shape their children’s or students’ future life by making them realise their potentials, helping them achieve their goals, guiding them towards the right direction and inspiring them to lead a purposeful, meaningful and successful life ahead.

We, as parents and teachers play an essential part in nurturing and grooming our children or students to grow up as good human beings possessing virtues such as intellectuality, competence, compassion, endurance and confidence. So, parents and teachers need to know how best they can nurture and groom their children or student to give them the best possible life ahead.